The international treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by a 50th country, announced on Saturday, allowing the entry into force in 90 days of this text that its proponents consider historic.
Although the treaty was not signed by the main holders of the atomic weapon, pro-abolition activists hope that its entry into force will be more than symbolic.
Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty, a number from which the treaty enters into force.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres celebrated the event. It is “the culmination of a global movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”, according to a statement from its spokesperson.
“This represents an important commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations,” the statement adds.
Non-governmental organizations also welcomed the event, including the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). This NGO, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its role in the drafting of the treaty, praised a “historic” progress.
“Today is a victory for humanity and the promise of a safer future,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in a press release.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons prohibits the use, development, production, testing, parking, stockpiling and threat of use of such weapons. It was approved by the UN General Assembly in July 2017 with the support of 122 countries. And it has now been signed by 84 countries.
Recent ratifications include Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta and Tuvalu. After Honduras‘s 50th ratification, the treaty is due to enter into force on January 22, 2021, the UN announced.
But the major nuclear-weapon countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, China and Russia, have not signed it.
Pro-abolition activists hope that its ratification will have the same impact as previous international treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions: stigmatizing the possession and use of nuclear weapons, which could lead to a change in behaviour, even on the part of non-signatory countries.
The nuclear-weapon States, for their part, maintain that their arsenals serve as a deterrent and express their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries.
“Too many people accept nuclear weapons as inevitable components of the international security architecture,” said Peter Maurer.
“The nuclear-weapon treaty allows us to imagine a world free of these inhumane weapons as an attainable goal,” he added.
According to ICAN, “we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in companies that produce nuclear weapons.”
ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn welcomed “a new chapter on nuclear disarmament”. “Decades of activism have achieved what many thought was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned,” she said.
“With this success, we have taken an important step towards our goal of a world without atomic weapons,” Austrian Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter, recalling his country’s “decisive role” alongside other nations in defending this text.
This stage, for the time being extremely symbolic, is in the context of strong tensions on the issue of disarmament.
The Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) signed in 1987 between Washington and Moscow, which had resulted in the destruction of some 2,700 missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres, has de facto died since 2019, to the great dismay of Europeans. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States after accusing Russia of not respecting it.
Since then, the US-Russian New Start Treaty concluded in 2010, which expires in early 2021, is considered the last nuclear agreement still in force, containing the arsenals of the two countries below their Cold War summits.
The two countries have just agreed on the principle of a one-year extension, in time to resolve issuesin the background.
By CCeiT (AFP)